Don’t put your rods away during the winter. The bass will still be biting, and it is one of the best times of the year to catch a trophy fish. A different approach is required during winter kayak bass fishing, but preparation and knowing fish behavior will ensure you can catch bass all year long.
Safety and Preparation
One of the most critical strategies for winter bass fishing has nothing to do with fishing. Depending on where you live, the water can be anywhere from cold to dangerously frigid. Winter weather and the threat of hypothermia can quickly lead to trouble.
Make a plan of where you want to fish, and be sure to let someone know where you are going and what part of the lake you will be fishing. If going alone, use extra caution, but ultimately, do your best to find someone to go with you.
When it comes to keeping warm, dress in layers and bring extra clothing in case you get wet or fall in. Layering is the best way to stay warm all day. Start with a base layer of a thermal shirt, pants, and socks. On top of that, use a fleece jacket and shirt for your middle layer. This will provide the most breathability and ensure you stay as warm as possible. Good outer layers are rainproof pants set or a bib and jacket.
Wearing multiple layers in a heated vehicle on your way to the lake will do more harm than good. Instead, add your final layer only when you arrive at the lake and begin to fish. Hand warmers and wool gloves with exposed fingers work well for keeping your hands warm and functional.
Winter Kayak Bass Fishing Locations
Two things are most important when looking for winter bass fishing locations: baitfish and deep water. Both are keys to finding bass in winter. You have a prime fishing spot if you find bass in one area.
You can easily find likely locations by looking at a topographical map or an electronic map card in your GPS unit. Areas such as humps, underwater islands, and long points are good places to start. The ideal locations will have deep and shallow water close by. Even though bass tends to be deeper this time of year, they will move up and down to different depths in search of food.
If you are familiar with the body of water, it is often best to visualize where the fish are during the other seasons. If you know that an area is known for spawning fish, the bass is usually not far from this area. The first area featuring deeper water from a known spawning flat is a prime location for wintering bass. The same goes for places that worked for you in autumn. Returning to deeper water is another way to find a bass hot spot.
Lure Selection when Winter Kayak Bass Fishing
Winter fishing techniques are much more streamlined than those for other seasons. Fast-moving and topwater baits are generally out of the question. What’s left are bottom-hugging baits and slow-moving lures.
Some of the top winter baits are jigs. Football-head jigs and hair jigs work well when the water is cold. Moving them slowly along the bottom is your best chance at getting a lethargic bass to bite. Since football jigs imitate crawfish, choose colors that closely mimic the crawfish in that body of water. The colors vary significantly by region, but generally, anything green or brown will usually be enough to match the hatch. Hair jigs also imitate crawfish but can also look like small baitfish. The same approach to matching colors works here; white- and silver-hued baits are often good choices.
Metal baits, such as spoons and blade baits, are another great idea this time of year. The rugged metal often outperforms everything else when the water is cold. They do a great job of imitating dying baitfish and are a vital way to catch winter bass.
Soft-plastic baits fished slowly on a drop-shot rig are another top choice in the winter. Fish these slower than you would other times of the year and experiment with the size of the bait and your leader length. Smaller baits are often better, and adjusting your leader length based on how far the fish set off the bottom is a solid wintertime bass strategy.
Water temperature is one of the essential things when winter kayak bass fishing. The temperature keeps the bass moving from shallow to deep and lets them know when to spawn. It signals the end of a season and gets the fish moving to a different phase.
The following are water temperatures that trigger bass to change their eating habits. These will also vary based on region, as some bass in northern climates is more resistant to cold weather.
Under 40 Degrees
One of the most challenging times to fish for bass, but it can be done. Bass in water below 40 degrees will be inactive and require an easy meal. This means the angler must get the bait right in front of the bass for it to strike.
40 to 50 Degrees
These are prime winter fishing temperatures. Bass living in these conditions will have slowed down their feeding but are not too cold to eat. They will chase lures to some degree and likely caught on several baits.
50 to 60 Degrees
Bass living in these temperatures are willing to bite a wide range of lures. These are not typical winter temperatures for much of the country, but in Southern waters, they may be the coldest time of the year. Temperatures are when bass transition from season to season. Generally, these are excellent fishing conditions.
Electronics Usage Winter Bass Fishing
Besides using your fish finder to locate prime fishing locations on your GPS, your electronics are likely never more vital when you are winter kayak bass fishing. Quickly scanning over areas as you are paddling or pedaling your kayak is the best way to locate baitfish and the bass that will be nearby.
When seeing fish on your screen, dropping your bait to them in a vertical presentation is an excellent approach. The drop-shot rig and metal baits, such as spoons and blade baits, can be worked vertically and catch the bass you see on your fish finder. It takes some practice to get your bait directly in front of the fish, but once you do, it is often the best way to catch winter bass.
By exercising safety, being prepared, and focusing on the best locations, you can have success bass fishing all winter long.
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